December 21 – The leader of the tripartite US/Canada/Mexico 2026 World Cup bid committee has promised his team will play by the rules when trying to secure victory over rivals Morocco for the first 48-team finals following the corruption-plagued debacle that overshadowed the 2018 and 2022 process.
Sunil Gulati, who is soon to stand down as head of the US Soccer Federation after deciding not to stand to re-election in the light of the country’s failure to qualify for next year’s event in Russia, nevertheless remains the man in charge of the 2026 bid committee and says he will be lobbying between now and next June, when the vote takes place, to bring the World Cup back the region.
Gulati says the fact that hardly any new infrastrature build will be needed to host the first ever expanded finals will give his campaign a major boost. “Morocco have said they are going to bid aggressively and we will do the same…within the rules,” Gulati told the BBC. “The rules have changed dramatically. It’s transparent, it’s a public vote and there are restrictions on gifts.”
Asked whether Fifa actually needs another World Cup in the USA after 1994, Gulati pointed to the economic benefits. “Right now there’s a big hole in regional sponsorship for Russia. I think it’s a big plus to be guaranteed a lot of additional resources, something that could fund Fifa for many years. This will be the biggest World Cup by far in terms of economics. The 1994 World Cup, which had fewer games than every subsequent World Cup, is still the largest in terms of attendance.”
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